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The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   252
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 5, 2003
Publisher   Shoemaker & Hoard
ISBN  1593760078  
EAN  9781593760076  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
An incisive compilation of twenty-one essays share the author's thoughts on the topics of agrarianism, agriculture, and community in writings that support local economies, defend farming communities, champion responsibility, and celebrate the integrity of the family. Original.

Publishers Description
"Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him."--The Washington Post Book World
Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes--an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geo-biography--these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture.
Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that benefit both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments?
Through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, and his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation.

Buy The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba & Norman Wirzba from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781593760076 & 1593760078

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More About Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba & Norman Wirzba

Wendell Berry WENDELL BERRY was born in Henry County, Kentucky, in 1934. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1956 and continued on to complete a master’s degree in 1957. In 1958, he received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

Berry has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, and Bucknell University. He taught at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky from 1964-77, and again from 1987-93.

The author of more than 40 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Wendell Berry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1962), the Vachel Lindsay Prize from Poetry (1962), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1965), a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing (1971), the Emily Clark Balch Prize from The Virginia Quarterly Review (1974), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award (1987), a Lannan Foundation Award for Non-Fiction (1989), Membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers (1991), the Ingersoll Foundation's T. S. Eliot Award (1994), the John Hay Award (1997), the Lyndhurst Prize (1997), and the Aitken-Taylor Award for Poetry from The Sewanee Review (1998). His books include the novel Hannah Coulter (2004), the essay collections Citizenship Papers (2005) and The Way of Ignorance (2006), and Given: Poems (2005), all available from Counterpoint. Berry's latest works include The Mad Farmer Poems (2008) and Whitefoot (2009), which features illustrations by Davis Te Selle.

He lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.

Wendell Berry currently resides in the state of Kentucky. Wendell Berry was born in 1934.

Wendell Berry has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Christian Practice of Everyday Life

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A dissapointment: Good observation, Terrible rhetorical content  Jul 24, 2008
This is the first Wendell Berry book I've read. I was vastly disappointed after reading some much praise for his works. Much of his work is overly flowery and long-winded.

There are a few gems this collection of essays: "A Native Hill" and "The Whole Horse" come to mind. These few essays stick to what Berry knows through experience. They reflect a deep connection the land and suggest a transcendental theme ala Thoreau.

Other essays focus on Berry's attempt to justify and explain the 'agrarian ethic'. Berry suggests that returning to locally based economies will restore a connection to the land. Having a connection to the land will result in people no longer destroying the earth.

While I agree strongly that this is the case, Berry does a terrible job of convincing anyone but religious and environmental zealots. The essays are filled with Biblical references and strange interpretations of obscure literature. He leaves much to be desired. Only rarely does Berry refer to anything practical or in the real world.

Berry's ideas are largely untested, untried and Utopian. He admits as much. Too often Berry refers to things as infinite and unknowable. This is a dangerous course. In attempting to discribe the ideal life Berry fails to point out the one thing that could bring down the house of cards Globalization is built on: local economics. Indeed for all his talk of human economy (running the household and community), he ignores the more standard meaning of the word.
Amazing truth, inspiring!  May 14, 2007
Berry holds no punches in telling about sustainable living, holding traditions of old and how the way we're developing and farming this world can't last. Most of the essays were written 30 years ago or so, but Berry was way ahead of his time and a lot of his thoughts. This collection is especially important now as we've become "exploiters" of the land. These essays will inspire you to become a "nurturer" of the land.
A wonderful book  Aug 11, 2005
Sometimes, during and after reading a particular book, I feel as though I could not have read anything more appropriate at that time.

The book blows me away with its depth, its insight, or the amazing questions it raises.

The Art of the Commonplace is one of those books, and it may be the best introduction to Wendell Berry a reader can ask for. As a collection of essays over more than twenty years, it covers a wide range of social issues-such as agriculture and the environment, family and marriage, consumerism, and globalism-which is amazing given that all of them relate to agrarian topics.

Berry poses questions that most of us never consider, and I believe that is the main reason Berry is one of the most desperately needed Christian writers in today's America.
Savor the wisdom in this book and then take action  May 2, 2004
For me the central theme of this book can be illustrated in this quote. " I don't think it is appreciated how much of an outdoor book the Bible is." Berry is a deeply religious man who lives his religion every moment in his deep, deep connections to the land, to all animals, to community,to the growing of food, and to the world as an organic entity.

As wonderful as it is to have Poet Laureates, I wish we also had Philosopher Laureates and that Wendell Berry had that forum. His thoughts are important for the national consciousness.

"The other kind of freedom is the freedom to take care of ourselves and of each other. The freedom of affluence opposes and contradicts the freedom of community life."

Berry advocates watching government closely, nationally but particularly locally. When it comes time to protest, he calls for facts and good arguments, not just slogans and buttons.
"I would rather go before the governement with two people who have a competent understanding of an issue, and who therefore deserve a hearing, than with two thousand who are vaguely dissatisfied."

These essays span several decades but the ideas are more relevant today than when they were written. The trends and programs, such as GATT and the loss of topsoil and the rise of megafarms, are as bad as he feared but time has proven them even more destructive.

"Restraint - for us, now - above all:the ability to accept and live within limits; to resist changes that are merely novel or fashionable; to resist greed and pride; to resist the temptation to 'solve' problems by ignoring them, accepting them as 'tradeoffs', or bequesthing them to posterity. A good solution, then, must be in harmony with good character, cultural value, and moral law."

Interesting, but frustrating  Jan 17, 2004
While I agree with a lot of what Berry has to say, I found his approach off-putting, in a way that I think will ruin his message for many readers.

Berry supports a simpler lifestyle, and his ideas are much like Thoreau's as described during his experience in "Walden". He says that simplifying will bring us back to nature and a healthier way of living. I agree with many aspects of what he has to say, although I quibble with him on several points - but that's a matter of personal opinion and not a problem with the book. But Berry takes a fairly hard-nosed, holier-than-thou approach to explaining the virtues of the lifestyle he supports, and this grows tiresome after reading the book for more than a short while.

Berry is also very long-winded. His writing style is somewhat overblown and very difficult to get through. This book and perhaps this author are probably best read in small doses, whether you like him or not.


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